First Look: Roku Player
About Video Comments (0 ) Transcript

First Look: Roku Player

2:58 /

If you don't need compatibility with iTunes, Roku's trio of ultra-affordable video boxes offers a wider range of streaming video and audio providers than you'll find on Apple TV.

I'm David Carnoy, executive editor for CNET.com and I'm going to give you a quick video tour of the Roku Player, an inexpensive media streamer that was once simply known as the Netflix player. In its latest incarnation, Roku has made its little black box even smaller while retaining the same on-screen look and feel, and channel options that are currently headlined by Netflix, Amazon Video-On-Demand, Pandora, and MLB.TV. The new box also comes in good, better, and best versions--the $59.99 Roku HD, the $79.99 Roku XD, and the $99.99 Roku XDS. From the front, all the models look the same and each one offers wired and wireless network connectivity, plus HDMI and composite AV video outputs for HDTVs and standard TVs respectively. Internally, the big difference involves the flavor of Wi-Fi you get. The base model has 802.11g while the Roku XD has faster 802.11n. Step up to the XDS and you get dual-band 802.11n. Additionally, the two higher-end models come with the enhanced remote you see here that offers three additional buttons--instant replay, back, and info. And, finally, the Roku XDS also includes a USB port which, once activated, will be used for viewing USB-based media. It also offers an optical output and support for component video via an optional breakout cable. For what it's worth, the XD and XDS support 1080p video while the entry-level Roku HD does 720p video, but we should point out that there's almost nothing in the way of true 1080p streaming video so you'll have a hard time telling the difference between the resolutions. All in all, the Roku player's biggest strengths are its ease of use, affordability, and diversity of its channel lineup, though it is missing content from YouTube and Hulu. The quality of the video varies from channel to channel but both Netflix and Amazon Video looks very good as does the video from MLB.TV. Sound quality was also quite good. The Roku player faces stiff competition from network Blu-ray players and game consoles that also offer Netflix streaming capabilities. That said, a lot of people will be comparing this product to Apple's newly redesigned $99 Apple TV which currently integrates Netflix and YouTube but not Pandora. In short, if you need a product that's part of the i-universe namely one that offers compatibility with iTunes and the likely interaction with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad devices via the new AirPlay feature, Apple TV will be a better choice. If, however, you want something that offers content beyond just iTunes, Netflix, and YouTube, Roku is the way to go. I'm David Carnoy and that's the latest Roku Player, thanks for watching.

New releases

Do you really want an iWatch?
4:32 July 24, 2014
It's an "Ask Brian Anything" email episode where we talk Macs, what he really thinks about the iWatch, Final...
Play video
Porsche 959: Posterchild of the...
10:10 July 24, 2014
If you had posters of cars on your bedroom wall when you were a kid, chances are the Porsche 959 may have...
Play video
Sony Xperia M2 is a sleek, affordable...
2:27 July 24, 2014
Check out our video review of the Sony Xperia M2. It's an affordable Android phone with a 4.8-inch display,...
Play video
How the £100 Nokia points the way...
32:07 July 24, 2014
Microsoft has revealed the cheapest Nokia smartphone yet, but how does the 530 point to the future of Windows...
Play video
The Netgear R8000 Nighthawk X6...
4:47 July 23, 2014
CNET editor Dong Ngo finds the Netgear R8000 Nighthawk X6 Wi-Fi router a hefty investment that doesn't return...
Play video
Can Android do for wearables what...
14:49 July 23, 2014
Google makes a play to be the center of the wearable universe, cars that communicate to each other, and what...
Play video
How accurately do fitness trackers...
2:13 July 23, 2014
As the "quantified self" craze continues, fitness trackers have us obsessing over not only how active we are...
Play video
Tomorrow Daily 023: Amazon Fire...
24:16 July 23, 2014
Today, Amazon Fire phone reviews started dropping (and they're not very good), Samsung puts a price tag on...
Play video
 

Video discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre